Rita Gabiola, also known as the Badjao Girl, has received a scholarship from ABS-CBN’s Rated K and Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation.
The 13-year-old Gabiola captured the hearts of the online community after her photos – showing her model-like appearance while begging for money – went viral.
The Badjao girl’s scholarship gives her the opportunity to study and get closer to her dream of becoming a school teacher.
As to why Gabiola wants to become a teacher, she explained: "Gusto ko pong matulungan 'yung mga bata. Isa na rin po doon 'yung mga magulang ko, hindi po nakapag-aral.”
(I want to help the children. I also want to help my parents who were not able to go to school)
Rita is the second among six siblings. Their father is a fisherman while their mother is a housewife.
"Ang pangarap ko talaga kay Rita, itaguyod ko 'yan, kahit sa isang beses isang araw kami kumain. Kahit walang baon, papasok ka na lang, basta ang pangarap ko sa 'yo, patapusin kita," Rita’s father said.
(My dream for Rita is to help her, even if we eat only once every day. Even without allowance, my dream for you is to help you finish school.)
Gabiola also thanked Topher Quinto Burgos – the man who took her pictures during the recent Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon – for uploading the pictures that went viral on social media. Without Burgos, Gabiola would not have received the various opportunities she is getting today.
"Nakita lang namin siya nanghihingi ng barya. Kapatid nating mga Badjao na may angkin ganda)," Burgos posted.
(We just saw her begging for coins. One of our Badjao sisters with a natural beauty.)
Since her pictures went viral, the Badjao girl has become a national celebrity. She has experienced getting asked by different people for photo opportunities.
Aside from getting a scholarship from "Rated K" and Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Lucena City’s local government has also promised to provide jobs for the Badjao girl’s family.